Aspiring to an easy job as personal physician to a wealthy family, Noboru Yasumoto (Yûzô Kayama) is disappointed when his first post after medical school takes him to a small country clinic under the gruff doctor Red Beard (Toshirô Mifune). Yasumoto rebels in numerous ways, but Red Beard proves a wise and patient teacher. He gradually introduces his student to the unglamorous side of the profession, ultimately assigning him to care for a prostitute (Terumi Niki) rescued from a local brothel.
A testament to the goodness of humankind, Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard (Akahige) chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director. Toshiro Mifune, in his last role for Kurosawa, gives a powerhouse performance as the dignified yet empathic director who guides his pupil to maturity, teaching the embittered intern to appreciate the lives of his destitute patients. Perfectly capturing the look and feel of 19th-century Japan, Kurosawa weaves a fascinating tapestry of time, place, and emotion.